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Christopher Pittman: Wikis

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Christopher Frank Pittman (born April 9, 1989 in Florida) was convicted in 2005 of murdering his grandparents, Joe and Joy Pittman, at age 12, in November of 2001. The case drew national attention in part because of his age at the time of the crime and in part because his defense that the prescription drug Zoloft caused him to act.

At age twelve Pittman was put on Paxil for mild depression. This depression escalated when he threatened suicide in front of his older sister, Danielle. His father, Joe sent him away from their home in Oxford, Florida to live with his grandparents in Chester, South Carolina where he frequently visited. His paternal grandparents had been a source of stability to him for years in a life with a mother who had run out on him twice and a father who was frequently abusive.

Paxil was not available in Chester, and a doctor gave him samples of Zoloft instead; although both drugs are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) with similar modes of selective action, abruptly substituting one for the other is usually not advisable. Almost immediately Pittman allegedly began to experience negative side-effects from the new medication; his sister went so far as to describe him as "manic." He purportedly experienced a burning sensation all over his body which required pain medication.

When he complained about the side effects of the drug, the doctor upped his dosage from 100mg daily to 200mg daily. Pittman had an argument on the school bus, choked a fellow student, and later disturbed the person playing piano in his church. That night, after receiving a belt spanking from his grandfather, Pittman went into his grandparents' bedroom and murdered them with their own shotgun which he had been taught how to use. After the murder he set fire to the house using a candle and papers.

Pittman took his grandparents' car, their guns, his dog and $33 and left. He was picked up after getting stuck two counties away. Before confessing, he told a story of a large black male who had kidnapped him after murdering his grandparents and setting fire to their house. When he ultimately confessed he proclaimed that his grandparents deserved what they got. He later claimed that he was under the influence of an overdose of Zoloft.[1]

Zoloft does have several side-effects, including aggravated depression, amnesia, abnormal dreams, paranoid reactions, hallucinations, aggressive behavior and delusions. Risks from overdose include potential "manic reactions."

For two days prior to the shooting, Pittman may have been suffering from too high a dose of Zoloft, as well as possibly suffering from Paxil withdrawal. While being shifted around from facility to facility for the next three years he had an incident where, still suffering from mania, a psychiatrist claims he made several racial slurs against a prison guard very early on in his imprisonment. There is also evidence that Pittman may have had some problems before he went on Paxil; most were waved off by the defense as a boy being a boy, or simply denied outright. The prosecutors based their case on the apparent evidence that Joy & Joe were indeed murdered and upon Christopher's confession obtained by SC officials when he waived his Miranda rights. This was his second confession.

On Monday, January 31, 2005, three years later, his trial as an adult began. On February 15, 2005 Pittman was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. There was some controversy about the verdict: two of the jurors admitted feeling coerced into their decision, and another juror openly discussed the trial with his wife and bartender during deliberations. [2]

On October 5, 2006 the South Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments on his appeal. [3] A petition to Pardon Pittman was also presented at that time. The Justices were also asked to hold off on moving Pittman to the adult penitentiary, but the delay was denied. On June 11, 2007 the Court affirmed Pittman's conviction by a vote of 4-1.[1]

Discovery Channel later aired an episode of 48 Hours, which was devoted to the Pittman case.

On April 14, 2008, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to reduce his 30 year sentence.[2]


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  2. ^ Supreme Court turns down boy killer's appeal -

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